What were India-China relations during Cold War?

During the cold war time India and china were apprehensive and hostile about each other’s interests and objectives. China regarded India as an appendage of imperialism. India was concern about Chinese policy of expansionism in Asia. The relations between two countries continued to characterize by the legacy of conflict and distrust caused by a number of issues prominently unresolved border dispute, Tibet issue and Sino-Pakistan nexus.

1. Border Problem

The relations between India and china were seriously strained in 1950s on the highly complicated issue of border problem. The LAC is not clearly delineated physically on the ground and hence there are differences on several locations. In 1913-14 the representatives of then china, Tibet and Britain held a meeting at Shimla. As per the negotiations in the meeting, a border line of 890 KM was drawn up between the then British India and Tibet. The borderline is known as McMahon line. There is dispute over McMahon line, Aksai Chin and Sikkim between India and china. China claimed a sizable portion of India’s north and north east territory-Ladakh, Sikkim and NEFA. the same time India is resented over the exchange of territory between Pakistan and china in the Karakoram region.

The Chinese Stand on Border Issue

  • The border between India and china has not been formally demarcated.
  • The McMahan border line was an outcome of the British colonial time military attack on Tibet region.
  • The McMahon agreement was concluded by the British colonial power and the then existing regime of independent Tibet and hence unacceptable to china.
  • As the Tibet region had no longer remained independent and the region become part of sovereign china, the status of McMahon borderline become redundant.
  • In the western sector China has claimed on Aksai Chin in and in the northeastern sector it has claimed on Ladakh District in Jammu and Kashmir
  • China is in occupation of approximately 38,000 sq. kms of Indian Territory in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Under the so-called China-Pakistan “Boundary Agreement” of 1963, Pakistan ceded 5,180 sq. kms. of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China.
  • China claims approximately 90,000 sq. kms. of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and about 2000 sq. kms. in the Middle Sector of the India-China boundary.

War on Border Issue

The border problem developed into a full fledge boundary dispute by the end of 1950s .The possibility of war appeared as the presence of Chinese troops on the border increased and they started frequent intrusions into Indian territory. China intervened in the Ladakh and Nefa region of Indian Territory which was opposed by India in strong words. China illegally occupied the large part of Indian Territory by the end of 1950s through more than thirty intrusions from 1955 to 1960. In 1960 china formally declined to accept the McMahon Border line between Indian and china. In 1961 china intruded into Sikkim, Ladakh and NEFA region of the Indian territory. The war broke out between India and china on the issue of border dispute. In this war china illegally occupied a large part of Lahakh territory of India.

After the war the bilateral relations remained strained until 1970-71. The diplomatic relations were reestablished in 1976. During Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to china in December 1988 both the countries agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to work out solution on border problem. In 1993 an agreement on maintenance of peace and security on border was concluded. Although the border issue continued to remain a major irritant, the possibility of peaceful settlement has increased due to a series of confidence building measures developed through Joint Dialogue Committee since 1988.

2. Tibet issue

Tibet is the most sensitive issue between India and china and has caused bitterness in relationship. Because of Tibet issue the India-china relations deteriorated in 1950s.China embarked on expansionist policy after it becomes communist in 1949 and Tibet was first victim of it. China not only claimed on the territory of Tibet but also tried to establish military control over it. In October 1950 china send troops into Tibet and tried to control it militarily. The shocking Chinese attempt to intervene in Tibet militarily to gain control over the territory was opposed by India. Although India accepted Tibet as a part of china, it condemned the way china tried to settle the issue. India wanted the issue to be settled peacefully and through negotiations with the spiritual leader of Tibet, Dalai Lama. In May 1951, china forced an agreement on Tibet which converted Tibet into the region of china. In 1954 India formally recognized Tibet as an ingredient part of China through an agreement with china and tries to pacify the Chinese anger. However the issue of Tibet once again cropped up in 1959 and seriously strained India-China relations. To oppose china’s forceful occupation of Tibet, huge demonstrations were broke out in china. The Tibetan government pronounced independence of Tibet. The Chinese army brutally suppressed the Tibetan revolt. To avoid arrest Dalai Lama fled from Tibet and took shelter in India. India also granted political asylum to Dalai Lama which enraged china. This Indian move was hugely resented by china

3. China Pakistan Nexus

The Sino-Pak nexus is basically emerged and evolved on the common anti-India interests. As noted by an analyst Pakistan perceives china as a security guarantee against India whereas for china Pakistan is low cost secondary deterrent. Pakistan established diplomatic relations with china in 1951.Like India Pakistan was also from one of the few countries who recognized communist china and established diplomatic relations. Both china and Pakistan share mutual rivalry with India. China and Pakistan shared inimical view of India and their animosity with India brought into an alliance. Along with India factor, china’s proximity with Pakistan has also caused by two factors. Firstly Pakistan’s strategic location. Pakistan has proximity to the strait of Harmuz in Iran through which 20% oil transport conducts. Secondly china wants Pakistan’s help in tackling the Uighur movement in Xin Xiang region of china. The Islamic militancy in Pakistan is supporting Uyghur.

It is pertinent to note that the china’s political and military alliance with Pakistan has contributed in nuclear proliferation in south Asia. The military alliance between china and Pakistan threatened the security environment of India since the cold war days. India looks at Sino-Pak nexus as the biggest threat to India’s national security. China perceives Pakistan as a strategic partner who can contain India and restrict Indian influence to south Asian subcontinent only. Despite of china’s official adherence to the non- proliferation regime, china continues to help Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme. During cold war time china provided Pakistan with major military, technology and economic assistance. China also transferred sensitive nuclear and missile technology, spear parts to Pakistan. China supported and upheld the Pakistani side in its war with India in 1965 and 1971.china supported Pakistan’s claim of Jammu and Kashmir region of India. Experts observe that China military and economic aid to Pakistan is part of china’s strategic move of encirclement of India. The Sino-Pak relationship has benefitted Pakistan more than the china

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